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ANGELS PUNCH TICKET TO ISA VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

GAA and GW to meet for ISA title

By Paradis Jolie Fejerang

The matchups between Guam Adventist Academy and Simon Sanchez have been intense all season. Going all the way up to the fifth set each time they would meet each other during the regular season, but with varying results as to who would win, tonight’s game almost panned out in the same way until the GAA Angels were able to break past their point-for-point game with the Sharks and secured the win in the fourth set. Set scores: 27-25, 25-12, 21-25, 25-22.

Mirroring their past games against GAA, Sanchez had quite the rocky start. The Sharks suffered from a lack of control inside the excited JFK gymnasium, sending multiple serves and hits too far and with no direction to lose points to simple outs. 

Where Sanchez struggled with control, the Angels struggled with communication. Despite their win, the times when Sanchez pulled forward proved to be to the mercy of the GAA athletes stealing hits and receives from each other or the complete opposite where not a single person was moving to return the ball. More than a couple times within just the first half, two athletes would quite literally run into each other while setting up to hit and resulting only in lost points to the Sharks due to their own mistakes.

Into the second set, the Sanchez lineup goes through a facelift as after each point, regardless of it being won or lost, a new player was being switched in. What seems to have been affecting the consistently collected Sharks were multiple calls for carrying. As the frustration showed on the athletes’ faces, their game and lack of fun on the court dulled. Part of what makes Sanchez so intriguing to watch is their camaraderie and enjoyment as they play, so ever-growing dissatisfaction on the court needed to be combated with a smart move by their coach to take advantage of the other players on the team for the starters to have a moment to recollect. 

Now, the Sharks turned to a safer game. There was caution on the Sanchez athletes’ side of the court as every play was calculated with safe returns and simple sets so as to avoid any further calls against them and keeping their spikes within the boundaries of the court. In doing so, the Sharks proved that perfecting the simplest moves wins points as their groove starts to come right back to them with every play that follows. Slowly, the hits start getting stronger and sets get quicker and more exciting, quite literally knocking the wind out of the receiving GAA athletes.

Most impressively for Sanchez’s comeback in the third set, Sharks sophomore Bless Aisek and junior Phil Rodman carried the team with insane kills on the court. Where Aisek shined in pure speed and power for an untouchable kill, Rodman was smart in placement to strike right where his opponents were unable to pick his hits up.

On the Angels’ side of the net, however, senior captain Kana Sgambelluri was working up to defend his team with the most kills of the night and carrying GAA with half his team’s eight (8) total aces as well as twenty-three (23) kills to cover half the team’s kill total.

As their third set win led to a sudden and extreme boost for both the Sanchez athletes and crowd, it seemed the usually calm and cool Sharks were back at where they needed to be to take the game despite being down a set. Unfortunately for them, the fourth set started with a knock to their renewed confidence as Angel Samuel Jung started off delivering some difficult to receive serves to the Sharks, claiming an ace of his own during the game. Then, when it seemed the Sharks were adjusted to Jung’s serves, the unmarked and underestimated Angel Joshua Elidok came out swinging with some unseen spikes that left the Sharks scrambling to catch back up.

Still, the Sharks were able to find their footing with some player adjustments and tremendous cheers from the crowd. With clear leadership from Codie Pasana controlling the plays with his team of Sharks to keep the communication and encouragement up even between points, the Sharks went all the way up to the twentieth point being neck and neck with the Angels before their excitement got the best of them.

Going back to where they started with little mistakes and nerves as GAA inched closer and closer to the win, the Sharks eventually lost their final point to a spike straight into the net and ending the game with a celebration of Angels on the opposite end of the court.

Player of the Game

Sgambelluri has nothing but respect for the game the Sharks put together. “Sanchez really stepped up their game. They improved in every aspect of the game,” Sgambelluri adds after describing the match as both a ‘heart attack’ and a ‘rollercoaster.’ “We couldn’t relax. Every time we did relax, they got the lead.”

Wendy’s Player of the Game: Kana Sgambelluri

Now that his team is headed to the championship, a first for them, he knows that there is still work to be done for both himself and the group as a whole. Regardless, this surreal moment is still something he is going to take some time comprehending as he slowly gets out of his game-mode way of thinking that he still has another point to win.

Through his excitement to prepare for what is next to come, Sgambelluri wholeheartedly believes in the strength that his team has, most especially because of how close they are. “Having a strong team bond and connection is what really pulled us through. Being friends – good, genuine friends – with each individual teammate on and off the court is what I believe is crucial to our success because we’re such a small team and we don’t have the luxury of subbing people out.”

The Championship

Up next for the Guam Adventist Academy is their volleyball team’s first step onto a championship match court and they will be facing the George Washington Geckos on May 14 at the University of Guam Calvo Fieldhouse 7:30pm.

Sgambelluri is looking forward to what is to come, feeling blessed enough to have gotten as far as he has with his team already.

“GW – they’re a monster school,” Sgambelluri shares his thoughts on the Geckos. “They have a great libero, great setter, and an amazing outside hitter. The whole team is just filled with wonderful players and it’s an honor to play them.”

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COMING SOON …

Guam Track & Field National Championship May 26

All-Island Wrestling Alumni Tournament June 8

10th Micronesian Games from Marjuro

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